About Okaloosa SCIENCE

Okaloosa SCIENCE (Science; Community-Involvement; Engagement; Networking; Capacity-Enhancement) is a three-year, STEM-based initiative funded by the Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) that seeks to enhance students' interest and performance in science while preparing them for success in the 21st Century workforce.  Twenty three schools in Okaloosa County are participating in the grant.

The overall purpose of the Initiative is to enhance military students' interest and performance in science. The project also seeks to foster resilience and promote positive coping for military children. To accomplish this, the initiative will:

  • Enhance the capacity of educators to engage students in STEM education
  • Implement cutting-edge new curricula and tools to enhance classroom education
  • Involve students in exciting experiential, hands-on field experiences
  • Provide opportunities for students to apply what they have learned by participating in service learning activities

It is our hope that the knowledge and technical skills gained by the students during the course of the project will open pathways to success in STEM-related studies and careers while also providing them with the tools to be successful in any other career they choose. 

Through the initiative, students will gain a real-world understanding of concepts taught in the classroom and an appreciation for how those topics affect them, their families and communities in real life. This unique model will also provide students with an “encompassing view” of the natural world around them. Experiential-based activities will take students from the classroom into the surrounding environment, where they will learn first-hand about local ecosystems and biodiversity, how human impacts are affecting those ecosystems and biodiversity, and participate in meaningful projects that will monitor and conserve those ecosystems. Yearly studies will culminate with a community Bioblitz – a unique environmental survey that allows students and families to conduct vital work alongside scientists and provide real and important contributions to science.

Why Are We Doing This Project?

The military has sacrificed so much for our country. Families cope with incredible stressors and challenges such as frequent moves, deployment, and missing holidays and special occasions with loved ones, to name a few. Military children are resilient in the face of many difficult challenges, but they often need assistance in order to cope, particularly when a loved one is deployed for an extended period of time. This project is a way of giving back to the military children, families and service members who have given so much to our country, and provide them with an amazing opportunity to work with some of the top scientists and organizations in the world, while enhancing their resilience.   

Capacity Building

At its core, Okaloosa SCIENCE is a capacity-building project. Capacity-building is a process which results in an increase in knowledge, ability, skills and other capabilities. Capacity-building can be done for an individual or conducted on scale, such as a school system or community. Essentially, all capacity-building programs follow similar steps, such as initial assessment, action planning, capacity-building activities and evaluation. Okaloosa SCIENCE follows this process. Unlike other grants the district may have received in the past, where tangible items such as materials are purchased through grant funds, capacity-building's value is long-term and measured by different methodologies, such as skill enhancement or successful development of networks. For example, instead of purchasing lab equipment for teachers, we will train them on seeking and writing grants. These skills are more sustainable and will pay greater dividends down the road. Similarly, the networks and partnerships we build within the community, and the more we can do to enhance the capacity of community organizations, the more benefits there will be for students, families and teachers in the area.

A Community-Wide Effort

The Initiative is designed to support military children and their families, as required by DoDEA. However, the grant allows civilians to participate as well.  So, while the grant will measure success based on the testing results of military children, all students in the grant schools and the entire Okaloosa community will benefit.

It is important to remember that Okaloosa SCIENCE goes well beyond the school district, out into the community and military bases. The project takes a holistic approach to capacity-building, utilizing resources and providing educational opportunities beyond the school district. Local organizations, for example, may provide Okaloosa SCIENCE programming and field experiences, helping students to continue their education after school, on weekends and over winter and summer breaks. A significant part of Okaloosa SCIENCE is devoted to community networking and creating working relationships with community-based entities to further supplement and enhance classroom education and provide an avenue for sustainability once the grant is completed.   



We invite you to explore the Okaloosa SCIENCE website for more information on our Initiative. 

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